Multiple ERISA Cases Seek Supreme Court Review

Many District of Columbia workers depend on private employer-sponsored retirement plans. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 directs the operation of defined contribution plans, but some view the law as in need of a legislative overhaul. Until such a correction might be forthcoming, retirement plan disputes must be settled through private talks or litigation. Inconsistent decisions in lower courts, however, have inspired a deluge of petitions to the Supreme Court of the United States.

From January through April 2019, the Supreme Court received petitions every month involving ERISA disputes. The likelihood that the court might accept any of these petitions this year is low. The cases in question revolve around a number of issues, such as burden of proof for fiduciary breach claims, investment communications, and the standards that determine if a case should go to trial.

For example, the statute of limitations for filing complaints about fiduciary breaches has come into question when plaintiffs lacked knowledge of the breach within the time given to make a legal complaint. In one such case, a U.S. magistrate ruled against the claims of a plan’s participants who said they had not been given information about alternative investments. A federal appeals court reversed the previous decision that had applied the statute of limitations.

When a person has questions about rights as a retirement plan participant, a consultation with an attorney might provide clarity. The insights of an attorney who regularly handles disputes related to ERISA benefits could help someone understand how to file a complaint. An attorney could organize evidence that supports a person’s claim for benefits or lawsuit about plan mismanagement.

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